I’m a finalist for the 2015 Maine Literary Awards in short works for both nonfiction and poetry. The winners will be announced live Thursday 5/28 at Space Gallery in Portland. If you’re in the area, come celebrate—with all of us. The slate is strong across the board this year—great writers, intense work, and some fabulous humans. Doors at 6—event at 7.
A BEANO WOMAN IN HER BATHROBE (excerpt)
…Johnny leaves the room, doesn’t table, moving
like thinning clouds. She watches him walk, watches
him walk inside himself—to give a report on the condition
of things: “Gone,” he says—the words drift, cling
to the layers of light and dust, sift out of Belle’s range
as he fills out the missing person’s report,
his fingernails beading the ink,
the undeniable rhythm of his blood seeking a route.
She wants to tell him there is another word for
missing person: explorer. And that the world is large.
THE UNDERSTORIES (excerpt)
Thursday: Shawmut subway station: 2:48 p.m.:
Lead Belly’s palm roughs up her cheek.
The crowd tangles old Lead up in hundreds
of arms, his bellied voice chorded in
parting love goodnight dreamy river jumps.
People can’t see it’s just love from a hand
all strung and picked out. The third-rail-live
track hums through the dark of the tunnel.
HUNGRY FOR HANDS (excerpt)
I can barely remember my mother’s hands and she’s been dead only twenty-one months. Her ashes still rest in the cardboard box, sealed with the words “U.S. Postal Service” printed in red, white, and blue. I expected them to come to the house, but UPS won’t handle the ashes and bone fragments of the cremated. For days after I picked her up at the post office, I carried her around in the box in the back of my compact Ford. Hatchbacks have an open area so I could talk to her.
“Hey, Mum, this spring is weird!” I’d call back to the box. I never gave her the details because she never liked them even when she was alive. Sometimes I’d just tell her how much I loved the kids, or how I had started to dream, or at least remember the dreams, the very night she died.
Usually I just drove around with her, singing my off-key Aretha Franklin’s and Nina Simone’s and Joan Armatrading’s, music she never listened to. I knew she’d be smiling at my confidence. At my risking being the fool. At exposing myself. Something she never could do.
Although she handled an estimated 1,296,000 cigarettes in her life, her hands carry no smell for me. My mother loved me unconditionally, but she was not a toucher. I wonder where I developed it or inherited it or learned it, for I love the touch of hands. I am hungry for hands.
photo by Leslie Bowman